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Netanyahu's spokesman under fire for calling niqab-clad Gaza protesters 'ISIS women'

Netanyahu's spokesman under fire for calling niqab-clad Gaza protesters 'ISIS women'
The Israeli PM's spokesman has faced a fiery backlash, including accusations of racism, after he mischaracterized female flag-waving Palestine protesters, calling them "ISIS women." Hamas is in a state of war with the 'caliphate'.

Ofir Gendelman, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Arab media spokesman, sparked a Twitter storm after he captioned an image with four veiled female protesters in the foreground as "ISIS women also participate today in the Hamas' led riots on the Gaza border."

He then piled on another highly dubious claim: "That's no surprise because Hamas IS the Gazan branch of ISIS."

Gendelman was keel-hauled by commenters who pointed out that there is no way an ISIS woman would be waving a Palestinian flag, which is considered to be secular blasphemy by the group, let alone the fact that Hamas is at war with the Sinai branch of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

Since Gendelman appeared to be basing his branding of the women as terrorists solely on the fact they were wearing the niqab full-face veil, he was called out as racist and Islamophobic:

"This is nothing but racism, Islamophobia (yes, that term exists actually!) and political propaganda. You know very well that these women are not ISIS but nevertheless you spread such messages," one person wrote.

"This is clear incitement meant to justify the killing of protesters," another said.

Some pointed out that even the long-sleeved clothing the women were wearing is incompatible with the strict Sharia-based code enforced by IS militants, since they are not black, but dark blue, grey, and brown.

Others called the tweet "bulls**t" and "inappropriate even by Zionist standards."

The original tweet by Gendelman was written in Arabic and duplicated in English. The official has not responded to the pushback, or clarified his claims.

Up to 40,000 people took part in the 'Great March of Return' protests along the Gaza-Israeli border on Saturday, marking the anniversary of the movement. The rally was largely peaceful, but claimed three teenage victims on the Palestinian side as the Israeli military deployed live ammunition against the activists.

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The Sinai IS branch has been a formal enemy to Hamas since at least January last year, when it declared war on the group with a video showing the execution of an alleged Hamas member. It called on its supporters to stage attacks on the group's members and its security infrastructure, claiming that Hamas "betrayed" Palestinians by jailing extremists and not putting up more resistance to the US recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

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